Blood Stains

Swallowing the last gulps
he set down the now empty can.
Balanced precariously on the corner
of the old dark coffee table.
There was the hoped for solace
that drink normally brought.
This night it evaded him,
drifting away on the wind.
The exhaustion remained
as the eternal night dragged on.
And sleep resided on some
far away distant shore.
The silent darkness of a house
that used to be called a home.
Persistent voices screamed loudly
driving him into the black of night.
He stood next to the tree
barefoot in the cold grass.
Houses dark lined the street
the world asleep in peace.
His right hand on the baseball bat
as if an old man in need of a cane.
Thought of why flashed in his mind
and were just as quickly gone.
This bat she had placed near
the front door in case of need.
A weapon close at hand she argued
just felt comforting and right.
Holding the handle with both hands
enjoying the feel of the wood.
Fingers curled around the handle
as he felt the violence rise within.
His heart beat loud in his ears
blood coursing through his veins.
Surges of energy careened in his body
his muscles tensing in silent expectation.
The world slowly faded from view
and before him stood only the tree.
The trunk stretched upwards yet anchored
by roots hidden deep in the ground.
Branches of leaves alive others dead and dry
stories of a life’s experience and dreams.
Each branch and leaf a turning point
of moments cherished and regretted.
The leaves held tight the emotions
accompanying each memory remembered.
Lifeless branches revealed little
of faded memories over the years.
He stared up into the tree’s canopy
branches morphing into memories of a life.
Built on hope and desire for the future
then wholly lost as fate conspired against.
The frozen silence was then shattered
a loud crack as the bat struck the tree.
He swung the bat over and over
as each memory blazed before his eyes.
The tree quivered so slightly at each blow
strong against the vicious onslaught.
Each swing fueled by grief and rage
over what was lost, never to return.
Memories flashed as the bat sliced the air
until his shoulders began to ache.
The repeating collisions of shame and loss
blows of wood on wood slowly splintered.
Continuing as the fury rose inside
a volcanic eruption long held in check.
From within the depths of the earth
driving him past the limits of exhaustion.
The cascade of blows finally slowed
the strength waned as the bat fell.
Gasping for breath his head down
the bat lay motionless in the grass.
The tree silently mocked his unsuccessful
and feeble efforts at destruction.
He fell to his knees in despair
before resting his back against the tree.
The trunk had willingly absorbed the blows
of the merciless rage and anguished attack.
He sat quietly through the night
a husk of a body physically shattered.
Fatigue blunted the throbbing pain
a small respite from the voices.
The sun soon began its ascent
as light crawled out of the dark.
Revealing the dawn of a new day
he sighed and moved so slightly.
Shoulders throbbed, hands and fingers
stiff and aching clenched in claws.
His mind and heart laid naked
to nonsense questions with no answers.
The mornings light grew brighter
unhindered by a sorrowful heart.
Looking down at his stained hands
covered in murky crimson of dried blood.
Staring he heard the angels whisper
of innocent blood that was once shed.
The ultimate sacrifice long ago
to revive the crushed hopes of man.
A small smile played on lips as he raised
his face to the warm glory of the rising sun.blood-stains

~Mark Schutter ©2016

*This was originally written as a short story or flash fiction if you will in October 2011 and I have revised it into a poetry format. Thanks for reading. (The original story can be read on my previous blog > Tree of Memories – Maleko ©October 2011) 

Art, Poetry

Solitude of Night


In the solitude of night
as waking dreams linger.
Still cloaked in the promise
of the morning’s first light,
let not the light in you
be darkness.

~Mark Schutter ©2016

#JustBelieve #GraceWins #HopeLives
#LoveChangesPeople #YouMatter

You can, and will, make a difference in the lives of others. What kind of difference will you chose?

God, Poetry

The Conflict with the Beast Within

Wake the BeastWe tiptoe quietly around, afraid to wake the beast
He lies quietly sleeping, his power unreleased
Carefully hidden lying deep in the dark hearts of men
The anointing, a legacy, a dormant strength within
Stand tall
Stand straight
Be bold, be courageous
In moments we quietly shrink, in condemning fear
When the true path quietly lays before us ever so clear
Silently we slink around the throne of our hearts
Forgotten from where our true power comes
Actors bound in chains we forsake our destined parts
Stand tall
Stand straight
Be bold, be courageous
We quietly fear the unrestrained strength
The powerful emotions, the uncontrolled lust
For deep inside the small dark place in our hearts
Is where the beast resides in each of us
Stand tall
Stand straight
Be bold, be courageous
Moments try to define us for a lifetime
Feeling we are left with nothing left to fight
From deep inside out of eternity passed
Into the dark shines the source of all light.
Stand tall
Stand straight
Be bold, be courageous
For in each heart resides this nature
The conflict we all in this life must bear
And yet this which dwells so deep
With love is defeated when we dare

~Mark Schutter ©2016

The passage below was the inspiration for this poem, which talks about the war between good and evil that wages within each of us.

For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. ~Romans 7:15-18 (NASB)

Sin is a deadly beast that resides within each of us. We have the power of Christ and yet, we tiptoe around afraid of sin. We struggle to win the battle within, while the enemy condemns us and we believe his lies. Yet, as Paul writes it is not us, but sin which lives in us that is the problem. We are sons and daughters of the King and we need not fear the beast, but rise up and fight, for God loves and delights in us! Remember “you matter and have been redeemed!”
This post was inspired by Neil Vermillion and written at his urging. Be sure to visit his site for more inspiration and daily prophetic words, you won’t be disappointed.

A Long Time Coming

It’s winter. Night. In a forest. You come across an abandoned house.

The house was dark illuminated by the full moon overhead that would peek out from behind the clouds crossing the nighttime sky.  No lights appeared in any of the windows and the night was utterly still and quiet.  I had been walking for hours and was cold and tired.  This was the first place I had encountered that might give me some shelter from the cold and snow that could start falling at any moment.  

As I came closer to the house I could see in the moonlight that it was old and run down, obviously not cared for and abandoned.  Approaching the front porch and steps I noticed that two were completely missing and the third did not look all that stable. I carefully stepped across to the porch floor gingerly feeling with my foot to make sure it would hold my weight.  I seemed sturdy enough so I pushed myself up onto the porch and found myself staring at the peeling paint on the front door.  Looking down the handle was covered in frost.  I tentatively reached for the handle and the bitter cold shocked me as my fingers closed around the knob.  Turning it slowly I heard the click of the and the door gently swung inward as I stood motionless staring into the black.  I hesitated standing trance-like, feeling like a sinner before the gates of heaven and afraid to enter.  A blast of icy wind quickly brought me back to the present and I again realized how cold I was. 

I stepped forward and into the front room before my mind could talk me out of it.  I walked slowly forward-looking around the room at the old furniture covered in dust grime and cobwebs.  The floor was littered with books and papers, lamps lay on their sides and I caught a glimpse of a rat as it quickly scurried away.  The moon light through the windows cast eerie shadows from the trees outside.  The wind blew and the shadows danced across the walls as if alive. 

Next to the long since abandoned sofa I saw an open book.  As I approached it appeared to be some kind of register with names and dates scrawled in it.  It reminded me of the old hotel registers that guests would sign when they rented a room for the night.  This was odd but intriguing making me forget my cold and tiredness.  I peered intently at the book bending down to look closer waiting for the clouds to again part and the light of the moon to filter in.  When at last it did I squinted intently to read the words.

The last entry was dated October 30, 1974 almost 40 years ago followed by the printed name, William J. Ralston.  My heart skipped a beat and my breath caught in my throat.  William J. Ralston, I whispered.  This could not be true.  I had always been called Bill but my mother had told me my given name was William, named after my grandpa.  William J. Ralston, that was my name right down to the J for James just like my grandpa. 

Standing in the icy cold I quickly recalled the stories my mother and grandmother had told me about my grandpa who had disappeared 10 years before I was born.  He had been fishing along the river in these very same woods in late October and had simply vanished.  Search parties were organized and there was never a trace of him found. I even remember the final story in the local paper about the search ending and how the man named William J. Ralston, my grandpa was presumed dead.

I felt my breath coming quickly and the air seemed to grow colder.  It was then that I heard the whisper that seemed to float on the wind. “Fishers of men.” Startled I quickly glanced around the room and it was then that I noticed the giant painting above the fireplace.  In the dark with the only light from the moon outside it appeared to be an outdoor scene in the mountains with a very large lake or river running through it.  In the center of the canvas was a large row-boat with 10 or 12 men at the oars.  Behind them stood a stoic figure all dressed in black staring straight ahead and pointing as if giving orders.  The scene was ordinary in every way but mesmerizing at the same time. 

As I stood staring at the painting it appeared to come alive and I could see the men straining against the current, hear the oars slapping against the water and the waves against the boat while the black figure screamed. Suddenly the figure turned towards me looking out of the painting and pointing directly at me. I could not move. It leaned further forward seemingly coming out of the painting.  Before I could react a skeleton hand shot out and grabbed my wrist and I was lifted off the floor. 

I could feel myself being pulled towards the painting closer and closer. As I entered the cold water I was abruptly shocked and gasping for breath.  The bony hand-held tightly to my wrist and an evil smile crossed its face.  As my head came up out of the water I looked into the figures face and it revealed only a skull.  I could not scream, but I struggled hard.  The figure then screamed  “I will make you fishers of men!” and then laughed the voice reverberating throughout the house as the wind whipped through the house. 

As I bobbed in the water beside the boat trying to catch my breath I looked out of the painting and saw through the window of the house.  Blinking madly, water running over my face I saw a star shining brightly in the night sky.  Oh Lord, I prayed fervently as i remembered the words of Jesus my grandmother read from the bible, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”  

“I believe!” I found myself shouting over and over.  It was then that I realized one of the men rowing the boat was shouting the words with me.  The black figure seemed to recoil from the words and bellowed, “No!”  The bony skeleton hand that had been gripping my wrist suddenly let go and I was grabbed around the shoulders by a strong-arm.  I found myself being dragged through the water by this unknown figure. Suddenly, the water cascaded over the edge of the picture frame and we were falling crashing to the floor in a pile of twisted arms and legs.

I slowly turned my head to look at the painting which now seemed to be just a painting exactly as it when I first saw it.  It was then hearing movement that I realized there was the other man behind me.  Turning I saw him rising and getting to his feet.  He was older but with a familiar kind face that belied the strength of his convictions.  He looked at me for a moment then smiled and said, “Thank you son, that was a long time coming. My name is William J. Ralston.”

~Mark Schutter ©2014

The above was written for Free Write Friday from the Time and Place Scenario image and text in italics at the beginning using what is called stream of consciousness writing, no editing, no proofing just writing! Please check out Kellie Elmore’s official site or click on the Free Write Friday Image for more information. Post your submission with a comment and link to your blog on Kellie’s blog, post on twitter with the hashtag #FWF, Facebook and join the fun!